Clashes between Egyptian police and protesters have left at least 60 people dead and hundreds injured since Thursday, as demonstrators across the country rally against President Mohammed Morsi’s monopolization of power and failure to address the country’s problems.
Last Friday, six people were killed in Suez after protesters demonstrated in opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood on the two-year anniversary of the country’s revolution. Tensions continued to rise the following day, as riots broke out in response to a Cairo court’s sentencing of 21 Port Said residents to death for their involvement in the deaths of 74 soccer fans in a February 2012 fight. The violence in Port Said continued Sunday when at least seven people were killed and 400 injured after a funeral service for those who died the previous day was attacked.
Tens of thousands march from Mostafa Mahmoud mosque to Tahrir Square on the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. (Photo: Jonathan Rashad/Al Jazeera)
In response to increasing fatalities and escalating violence, President Morsi on Sunday imposed a state of emergency for 30 days and instituted a curfew in the three cities most affected by the violence: Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said. Under the statute most civil rights are suspended, allowing police to arrest and detain suspects indefinitely without being charged. Despite this, thousands took to the streets Monday night. On Tuesday, to try and stem the violence, Cairo announced a decision made by Morsi during the previous days’ national dialogue meeting, which was boycotted by most of the opposition, creating a committee tasked with recommending amendments to certain articles of the constitution.
Opposition to the state of emergency was a main factor behind the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Following his ousting, the military assumed power during an interim period that ended with President Morsi’s election in June 2012. Since becoming president, Morsi has concentrated control in the executive branch, issuing a sweeping decree in November 2012 that gave himself broad powers and limited judicial oversight on the drafting of a new constitution to benefit his Islamist allies. Perhaps ironically, on Wednesday President Morsi left Egypt for Germany to convince Europe of his democratic credentials.